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Keep customers coming back

Do you drop your old customers as soon as you acquire new ones? That's not a smart business move. Old customers, especially those who return a lot, are a business's best friend.

The cost of acquiring new customers, according to many surveys, runs eight to 10 times more than the cost of keeping existing ones. So you get a stronger return on your marketing dollars and better sales by focusing on 20% or so of your top-tier prospects. Usually, that requires three steps:


  • Identify and characterize your key customers

  • Target messages in suitable media to hit nerves among the important customer segments.

  • Build in a payoff that rewards customers for giving you time and attention.


Identify Your Best Customers

First, find out more about your customer. You need to learn details about their habits, profiles, and preferences before you can characterize them. In technical terms, that translates into creating a customer database that can be conveniently accessed and manipulated by the staff, including sales, marketing, customer service, and billing.

Information most helpful to collect includes:


  • Name, full address, phone number and/or e-mail address

  • Date of birth, so you can send out cards or e-mail with birthday discount offers or gifts.

  • Annual amount spent with your company.

  • Products purchased and past history.

  • Dates or schedule of purchases.

  • Special offers acted on.

  • Customer service history.

  • Special requests for products or service.

  • Participation in any loyalty clubs or events


Target Your Messages

When you're clear about the target customer and you can rely on smart, centralized customer information, you can send specialized offerings to selected customer segments. Use Publisher part of Office 2010, to create flyers, postcards or other mailings that send news of customized offers.


  • Cross-sell or up-sell additional offers and products.

  • Provide well-timed rewards or discounts.

  • Communicate with customers in the medium they prefer - direct mail, postcards, e-mail, phone, letters


Create incentives

Give customers an incentive to come back. Be it a gift, a discount, special financing or a chance to win what's behind Curtain No. 1, customers come back for incentives.


Free Shipping - People love the convenience of shopping online. But they don't like paying for shipping. Offer your customer free shipping and you'll generate more sales than you'll lose in shipping costs.

Discounts - Who says 10 percent doesn't go a long way? Discounts can help you obtain long-term customers the easy way.

Gifts - If a customer orders an item you specify or a minimum amount of products/services, give them a special gift. The gifts you give don't have to cost too much. They're just a way for you to show your customers your appreciation for their business.

Specials - Having different specials every month gives customers a variety of reasons to keep coming back. Give your specials a variety so they can appeal to all customers. For instance, you wouldn't want to offer a free coffeemaker with every dishwasher purchase month after month after month.

No Payments - If you can offer financing or delay someone's payments for a period of time, this is an excellent way to get people in your store. Be sure you have the proper financing restrictions and policies in place before offering this option to your customers.

Easy Billing - Splitting your billing into two or more easy payments for your customers gives customers more of an incentive to make expensive purchases.

Giveaway - Giving away products drives people to your store with little to no cost to you. You can require customers to have to fill out an entry form for your giveaway in person to get them in your store.

Sale - The most basic advertising is often the most overlooked. Having a sale requires advertising through outside mediums but if your sale is good, customers will flock to your store with wallets in hand.


Send out an e-mail newsletter

This popular promotional tactic is an effective one. Don't expect to build a list of thousands of subscribers, but focus instead on building a high quality list of targeted readers. When sending a newsletter, keep it short and informative. Promotions are expected, but don't overdo it.


Run short-term specials

Internet users love a bargain, and sales are a sure way to capture attention. Use short sales periods to motivate people to act - giving them three months to make a decision will just help them avoid making the decision to buy. Let users know that the items on offer are always changing to encourage them to visit your site regularly. And get creative with your specials. For example, givw away a free gift rather than just cutting the price.


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